Sports

Knights basketball hopes to start simple

Senior Caleb Brown defends teammate Jeff Kelly in a early season practice. Both return from junior seasons in which they received all-conference recognition. - DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter
Senior Caleb Brown defends teammate Jeff Kelly in a early season practice. Both return from junior seasons in which they received all-conference recognition.
— image credit: DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter

MARYSVILLE — The coach and players are still getting acquainted at Highland Christian.

Coach Guy Kennedy took over the Knights boys basketball program shortly before practices began and the coach is becoming familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of his team. As a result, Highland Christian team is starting out by working on their fundamentals and expanding the program from there.

But Kennedy said he likes what he’s seeing from his players so far.

“Their effort is 100 percent. They’re busting their butts all the time,” he said. “Even in these practices, there hasn’t been a lot of loafing around, which is good.”

He added that the team seems to shoot well and can transition to create fast-break opportunities.

Three seniors return from last year’s program to put Kennedy’s plan to work. Point guard Caleb Brown and small forward Jeff Kelly return from seasons that ended in all-league selection. Additionally, 6-0 shooting guard Craig Campbell is a four-year starter, dating back to the school’s days as Master’s Touch.

“Caleb’s the best ball-handler on the team. He can create offense for himself as well as the rest of the team, which is nice from a point guard,” Kennedy said, describing the strengths of his key returners. “Jeff Kelly is the prototypical small forward. He can handle the ball if he needs to. He can go down the low post and take his competition down low and make a move. He’s got that well-rounded game.”

In his first year of varsity at Highland Christian, Vince Kurtzenaker should be able to contribute at power forward. A transfer to the Knights last year, the senior was ineligible for varsity under WIAA rules governing athlete transfers. Two sophomores return with varsity experience as well. At 6-4, sophomore Luke Simmons will be the fifth starter, playing at center. Sophomore guard Jesse Brown will add experience coming off the bench for the Knights.

Kennedy describes his plan for the season to keep things simple and add on a little at a time.

“What I’m trying to do is take and solidify their fundamentals. From there, we can build up and expand the system once I feel they’re well-honed,” he said. “We can create more variety as the season goes on.”

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